Southwick mum gives birth in a Shoreham lay-by

The Marcantonio family with PC Jenny Pietersen, left, and PC Roisin Vafaee
The Marcantonio family with PC Jenny Pietersen, left, and PC Roisin Vafaee

A SOUTHWICK woman gave birth in a lay-by when heavy traffic stopped her and her husband getting to hospital on time.

Frantic dad Barry Marcantonio spotted two police officers at the Shell garage in Brighton Road, Shoreham, and called for their help.

PC Roisin Vafaee and PC Jenny Pietersen had been attending an appointment shortly after 6pm on Wednesday and were happy to take on the unexpected extra duty.

They immediately went to comfort Beth Marcantonio and help with the birth of baby Thea, who arrived minutes later.

The happy mother said: “In a situation where I should have been absolutely terrified, I was bizarrely calm and totally reassured by Roisin’s voice and I still remember exactly her first words to me – ‘Hello it’s all ok we are both mums, you’re going to be absolutely fine!’.”

An ambulance took the family to Worthing Hospital, where Thea weighed in at 8lb 10oz. The officers went along to the ward later that evening to find the mother and baby were doing fine.

PC Vafaee said: “I am truly honoured to have delivered Beth and Barry’s baby girl, along with PC Pietersen. It’s not every day that we respond to something like this.

“It made such a change from the incidents that I usually go to. I can honestly say it was my best day on the job so far. I wish Beth, Barry and Thea all the happiness in the world.”

Mr Marcantonio explained that they had left home to go to the hospital but hit rush-hour traffic on the A27.

“I diverted off the A27 and decided to go along the seafront as it was becoming incredibly clear that our baby wanted to meet us,” he added.

“My wife spotted a police car at the Shell garage and I pulled over into the lay-by, calling 999 while shouting for an exact location for the ambulance to get to us.

“The police officers rushed straight over and immediately assisted.”

Chief Inspector Jo Banks said: “These two officers showed great initiative and professionalism in this unusual situation. I am very proud to work with and lead colleagues who are willing to rise to situations like this. I wish all the best to Beth, Barry and the new addition to their family.”

Mrs Marcantonio said her husband had held on to her hand during the birth and the paramedics were on speaker phone, guiding them all through the birth.

She added: “In a very public place, it quickly became safe and very private via all the officers that attended and ambulance crew.

“We cannot honestly thank Roisin and Jenny enough for their caring, attentive and calming influences on all of us - and Thea’s first visitors in hospital being the officers that delivered her was just so thoughtful and totally heartfelt by us both.”

She said the offers were a credit to their police station and they hoped to take Thea to visit them soon.”